Words of Yesterdays
Apologies in advance for not updating the site since the fifth day I've been here. I've come to know that Kampala's wifi is unreliably slow, and I've been quite busy; I haven't had much time to devote to daily updates. That being said, let me fill you guys in on the past two weeks.
So I'm 20 years old you know? Relatively young, especially considering the age of a majority of my peers and coworkers here. This is actually an irrelevant fact because it doesn't alter anything. I just find it quite... ironic (if thats the word I'm looking for) that I always find myself the youngest in the circle.
Anyway, volunteering brought me to an orphanage in Masuliita village, a small town out in the country. The organization I was with, one ran by the first lady of Uganda, hosts the orphanage and they work to provide these kids who are often abandoned by parents who've had them out of wedlock or situations of that nature. The day I visited, the organization (Uganda's Woman's Effort to Save Orphans) was also sponsoring a medical camp in the village that provided free vaccinations, safe sex lessons, and HIV tests. I won't try to describe the experience in words. Being that I was brought on as a photographer, it was literally my job to observe the whole day. And boy, did I observe. I cannot begin to detail the different emotions I felt and the thoughts that ran through my head throughout the day. It was an experience that molded my thought process and softened my heart, one that I am sure to never forget.
There was one moment in particular however, that struck me the hardest. I had just got finished helping set up the UWESO flags by the tents. The place was packed. Men and women of all ages and sizes stood in long lines awaiting health care from the different organizations, including Red Cross, which were set up in the park. Children ran around unaccompanied, presumably bored with waiting in line. Two kids in particular, a young boy in a white shirt, and a little girl in a red shirt, approached me as soon as I walked in and started to snap pictures. Being the child-loving person I am, I smiled and gave them pats on the shoulder, but I was focused on taking photos. This was all before the day really started though, so I decided I would wait for things to get in motion before continuing to take pictures. I sat down with a few other members of the group while we waited for the head organizer of the medical camp to make his announcements. I was looking around at all the people, all the children, and felt a wave of emotion rush over me. Now, its difficult to describe this emotion, as its one I've never felt before. The closest I can begin to describe it is as maternal. Looking at all the children, a thought crossed my mind that "one day, I wouldn't mind adopting one of these kids... I wish I was financially stable enough to do it now." And as soon as I thought that, the little girl from before approached me with her brother in the white shirt, and her little sister, a baby no older than a year old. She plopped her baby sister on my lap, as this thought had just passed through my mind, and ran off to play with her brother. I watched her run off in astonishment, and held her sister as if she was my own child, rocking her to sleep when she got a bit antsy.
The moment was so... intangible, so unforgettable. It really took my breath away. Being a writer by nature, it's hard to admit when you don't have the words to describe something but all I can do is tell you what happened and hope you may understand how I felt. They say some memories are strong enough to invoke that same emotion you felt when you originally experienced them, and as I type this my face is growing hot and my heart heavy, I feel tears in the back of my eyes. I don't really know what else to say...
We have to build up the youth. We have to give them people to look up to and aspire to follow in their footsteps. We have to give them positive memories and role models, we have to leave them with something to pass onto their children when they have them.
After the baby fell asleep, her sister in the red shirt took her back to her mother, and her and her brother in the white followed me the rest of the day.